Movie star Rylance hopes to help Herne Hill pupils get into record books

If you can hold a paint brush and be in Herne Hill on Wednesday evening, you could find yourself in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Pupils in Herne Hill are smartening up their neighbourhood, at the same time as getting their achievements into the book of the world’s best.
But they need a sudden influx of reinforcements. Someone has suddenly upped the figure of painters needed to beat the existing record for the number of people involved in creating a mural.
One of the organisers, Kate Hinton, said: “The record we were aiming to beat previously stood at 454. Not a doddle, but a doable for sure! But just last weekend a new record was set – 1,116 participants. Yikes!  So this is a big old call to arms and request to see if we can get more people involved.
“Hop off the train en route home and come and colour in! We’ll have a fast-moving process in place so it will be a quick detour to make a big moment happen.”
Actor Mark Rylance, who made his name in Wolf Hall and has since starred in The Other Boleyn Girl, Bridge of Spies and Ready Player One, will be one of the people donning overalls and getting handy with a brush.
Hundreds of volunteers are transforming Herne Hill’s long, dark and grotty underpass between Station Square and Milkwood Road in September with the world’s most contributions to a colour by numbers painting.
More than a thousand local primary kids from the area have agreed to help beat the Guinness World Record for the most contributions to a colour by numbers painting – but they need more.
They aim to complete this mammoth task on a single day.
That was enough to trump the previous record holders Sam’s Club, which had 455 participants, but the organisers, Herne Hill Forum, need more hands on deck to beat the new record.
Herne Hill Forum commissioned local artist Victor Szepessy to create a design for the 40 metre long mural, which will incorporate Herne Hill’s key people, places fables and myths.
Children from seven schools in Herne Hill – Jessop, Michael Tippett, Herne Hill School, St Jude’s, Turney, Rosendale and Judith Kerr – will be aiming to colour in the whole mural with paint pens on just one day – but once the school day is over, from 4pm, reinforcements will be needed until 8pm to help complete the job.
The record breaking attempt, led by Herne Hill Forum with funding, resources and support from Aviva, Southeastern, Network Rail, Lambeth Council and local businesses, will take place on Wednesday 12th September in Station Square, Herne Hill.
Once completed the new 40 metre mural will be placed on the wall that runs the whole length of the “piano” side of the underpass. This extensively used passageway provides a vital link between local shops, businesses, transport hubs and public spaces, and the mural is just one element of a big and ambitious transformation programme. Renovations have already begun, with Southeastern investing in new strip lighting, removing anti-graffiti panelling, and providing a new lick of paint. The station side of the pass will also undergo a facelift, with new display boards allowing the local community to display artwork, exhibitions and local information.

Lucy Reynolds, project manager with her little boy Ralph, said: “The idea behind the world record attempt was to give the children of Herne Hill a day they will remember for the rest of their lives, whilst creating a beautiful space right at the heart of the Herne Hill community. The mural was inspired by local residents who wanted to have a focal point where they can understand the history of where they live.”

Illustrator Victor Szepessy, who designed the mural, said: “This massive community colouring in mural came from working with kids on the Brockwell Passage mural. As I was painting the outline on the wall, local kids started running up and asking if they could colour in, so I gave them brushes and paint and we ended up making it together. It was a very dynamic process and after it was finished we saw kids going by with their parents, pointing and saying ‘I made that.’ I hope that creating a nice space together as a community will give the kids and everyone involved a sense of connection to and pride in their area. And that we can experience what we’re capable of when we all work together in divided times.”

The renovation of the underpass is just the start of a wider regeneration programme in Herne Hill, which is intended to culminate in the renovation of the space above the station.  Currently the room above the station is mothballed and inaccessible. However, Herne Hill Forum is working with South Eastern to plan how they can develop the space as a new town hall and community centre for Herne Hill.  The Forum are exploring ways to raise funds for the new space, including a bid to the GLA Good Growth Fund.

The underpass project has been led by the Herne Hill Forum and funded from Section 106 funding from the Tesco development, with the funding being managed by Lambeth council.  Additional funding was also secured from the Aviva Community Fund, as a result of the Herne Hill community voting en masse and enabling the Herne Hill Forum to win this funding.  In-kind resource has also been provided by Southeastern (who have invested in new lighting, removal of the old anti-graffiti panels, installation of new panels, and re-painting of existing surfaces) and Network Rail (who are providing volunteer resource and supplying paint for improvements to the station side of the underpass).

Reynolds has helped create a groundbreaking recycling collaborative amongst local traders; leading the installation of public artwork throughout the area; and campaigning on behalf of flooded businesses to secure Thames Water compensation.  She has been leading the underpass regeneration project for the past four years, managing all elements, from funding to delivery, and fronting the partnership that is behind this ambitious piece of work.

Victor is also known for designing the artwork in Herne Hill’s Brockwell Passage, which connects Station Square with Dulwich Road.  He said: “I hope that creating a nice Space together aS a community will give the KIDS and everyone involved a SenSe of connection to and pride in their area. And that we can experience what we’re capable of when we all work together in divided timeS.”
Please register your place in advance for this epic undertaking here: We need to capture participants’ details to submit to the Guinness Book of Records (in confidence). Registration in advance will make this much quicker and simpler – but don’t worry if you can’t because someone will be there to take details on the day.

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